“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult. Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.” ― Vashti Quiroz-Vega
“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
― Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls
We sit behind these keyboards and type out words sometimes forgetting that there are actual people on the other end of the computer screen. We type out these words knowing the intent we have, the thoughts that are running through our own heads, and having no control over how the words are received or perceived. In the blink of an eye, in a second’s time, the time that it takes to click the ‘publish’ button our words are out there in black and white for all to see. Once the post or comment is published we know with the responses that come back to us that we have communicated ineffectively or, worse, errantly. Wait, wait, wait…no, that’s not what I meant!, we sit here shouting at the words displayed on the page.
Speaking or publishing words is much like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. Once the paste has been squeezed from the tube it cannot be put back in. No matter how much you’d like to or how hard you try you’ll never shove every drop back in the tube.
Words have the power to build up or destroy, to build bridges or walls, to start wars or end them. Words have the power to give life and the power to lob off the head of the one they gave power to in one felled swoop. They convey love and hate. They can tell our significant others that they are the most important thing in the world to us or tell them they have no value. Words have power. Sometimes more power than we are even aware. The saying goes, ‘Actions speak louder than words’, but sometimes words are action; they are our thoughts in action. Whether carefully crafted or thoughtlessly strung together, words mean things.
What seems benign and unassuming to one takes on a different meaning and one of more import to another. Within a few clicks of the publish button one comment can take on a life of it’s own, filled with meaning that was never intended, simply because we presume intent upon another that was probably never there. Presuming intent upon another leads to all manner of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and collateral damage left in its wake.
Sometimes in an effort to be humorous or witty we(read: I) use poor judgement and in the blink of an eye the readers’ perception of the us is changed. It only takes a moment. It only takes one word and suddenly the miscommunication is blatantly obvious. It is too late and even more difficult to communicate with two feet in your mouth. Just because a thing can be said doesn’t mean that it should be said. A thought in one’s head doesn’t always translate well in print. Is the pen(or keyboard, in this case) too mighty a sword in the hand of this, sometimes incompetent, communicator? Perhaps, but I refuse to be defined by my failures. These recent words of a much more competent writer than I come to mind:“We err. The strong and honest admit it, and make amends.” John Zande
Can I get a R’amen?